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08/31/10 2:21 AM ET

Lee looks to return to form vs. Royals

Rangers ace Cliff Lee has been off his game of late. Squaring off against the Royals may be the perfect remedy for the left-hander to get his game back on track.

Lee has had success against the Royals over the course of his career. He's 12-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 22 starts against Kansas City and he's 7-2 at Kauffman Stadium with a 3.83 ERA in 13 starts.

The southpaw will look to improve those numbers on Tuesday, when he takes the hill for the Rangers to try and help his club earn the series victory in the second game of the three-game set.

Lee has struggled in his last three starts, losing all three while allowing 19 runs in 18 1/3 innings. He's 1-4 with a 6.20 ERA in his last six starts.

The All-Star had his shortest outing with the Rangers the last time he took the hill. He gave up five earned runs in as many innings of work against the Twins.

"I haven't been locating my pitches as well as I expect and they haven't missed," said Lee, who will get an extra day of rest after his start on Tuesday and will toe the rubber again for the Rangers on Sept. 6 in Toronto.

"It hasn't been that many pitches either," he said. "It's just been a handful of pitches. I just have to stay away from the heart of the plate. If it were me making good pitches and they were hitting them, I wouldn't know what to do. But that hasn't been the case."

The Royals will send right-hander Sean O'Sullivan to the mound. O'Sullivan, in his sophomore campaign in the Majors, is 2-0 in three games (two starts) with a 2.70 ERA against Texas.

He did face the Rangers this season, but it came in a relief role before he was traded from the Angels to the Royals. He tossed 2 1/3 shutout innings against the Rangers on June 30.

O'Sullivan looked strong against the Tigers on Wednesday, as he allowed three earned runs in seven innings of work. The trio of Detroit runs all came in the second inning, and at one point, the righty retired 11-straight batters in a game where he was battling a minor case of bronchitis.

"In terms of O'Sullivan, he was awesome," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "His ball to strike ratio was well over 2-to-1. He threw the ball very well. He got into a real grove after he gave up three in the second. He really started changing speeds and kept the ball down."

Josh Hamilton may be used as the designated hitter again on Tuesday because of some soreness and swelling in his right knee.

The knee has troubled him on and off all season and did again on Monday night against the Royals. Hamilton was moved from center field to designated hitter just before the game. He still went 2-for-5 and leads the Majors with a .359 batting average.

"He was just aching and we didn't want to take a chance," manager Ron Washington said after the game. "He should be back out there tomorrow."

Rangers: Cruz returns to lineup
In his first start back with the Rangers, Nelson Cruz got off to a real quick start. In his first at-bat off the disabled list, Cruz recorded a double then came around to score a run. He went 1-for-4 on the night.

Cruz came off the disabled list on time after straining his left hamstring. It was the second time he landed on the DL with the same injury, the first stint from May 29-June 21.

However, this time around, the outfielder was placed on the disabled list more for precautionary reasons.

"It gives us another threat, another presence," manager Ron Washington said. "It gives Vlad [Guerrero] protection. He's a very important piece. We hope he comes back all fired up and ready to go."

Royals: Yost impressed with Rangers
The Rangers are beginning to run away with the American League West. With Monday's win, and Oakland's loss -- who are eight-and-a-half games back of Texas -- it seems the Rangers are bound for the postseason.

Yost certainly believes the Rangers are good enough for a long playoff run.

"They've got a lot of aspects to their team that's carried them. Their defense has been very, very solid; their pitching's been very good, their bullpen's been very good and they're a very well-rounded team. They do all phases of the game really, really well," Yost said. "They've got an eight- or nine-game lead in that division over there and that's why they're going to have a chance to go deep in the playoffs, I think."

Worth noting
Rangers outfielder David Murphy has two homers in five at-bats off Royals' O'Sullivan. ... Kansas City is 10-22 against American League West foes this season. ... With Monday's win, Texas evened its road record to 31-31. ... This series will be the final time the two teams square off this season. ... Rangers starting pitcher C.J. Wilson earned the win on Monday and still hasn't lost since the All-Star break, posting a spotless 7-0 record in nine starts. ... Rangers infielder Andres Blanco has five doubles in six days. He went 3-for-4 with a double and triple in the series opener. ... Rich Harden is moving to the Rangers' bullpen, and Derek Holland is going to the rotation.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.